Most ViewedMary's Marriage Personal Appearance And Popularity
Mary The Queen Dauphiness The Queen And The Queen Dowager Of France
An Examination Of The Letters Sonnets And Other Writings Adduced In Evidence Against Mary Queen Of Scots
Occurrences Immediately Preceding Darnley's Death
The Little Waif
Mary's Birth And Subsequent Residence At The French Court
Least ViewedThe Love Token
Loch Leven Castle
Ten Years After
The Ebbing Well
Mary's Eighteen Years' Captivity
Return To Scotland
My Lady's Remorse
The Huckstering Woman
Hunting Down The Deer
On The Humber
Master Talbot had done considerately in arranging that Cicely should at
least begin her journey on a pillion behind himself, for her anguish of
suppressed weeping unfitted her to guide a horse, and would have
attracted the attention of any serving-man behind whom he could have
placed her, whereas she could lay her head against his shoulder, and
feel a kind of dreary repose there.
He would have gone by the more direct way to Hull, through Lincoln, but
that he feared that February Filldyke would have rendered the fens
impassable, so he directed his course more to the north-west. Cicely
was silent, crushed, but more capable of riding than of anything else;
in fact, the air and motion seemed to give her a certain relief.
He meant to halt for the night at a large inn at Nottingham. There was
much stir in the court, and it seemed to be full of the train of some
great noble. Richard knew not whether to be glad or sorry when he
perceived the Shrewsbury colours and the silver mastiff badge, and was
greeted by a cry of "Master Richard of Bridgefield!" Two or three
retainers of higher degree came round him as he rode into the yard,
and, while demanding his news, communicated their own, that my Lord was
on his way to Fotheringhay to preside at the execution of the Queen of
He could feel Cicely's shudder as he lifted her off her horse, and he
replied repressively, "I am bringing my daughter from thence."
"Come in and see my Lord," said the gentleman. "He is a woeful man at
the work that is put on him."
Lord Shrewsbury did indeed look sad, almost broken, as he held out his
hand to Richard, and said, "This is a piteous errand, cousin, on which
I am bound. And thou, my young kinswoman, thou didst not succeed with
"She is sick with grief and weariness," said Richard. "I would fain
take her to her chamber."
The evident intimacy of the new-comers with so great a personage as my
Lord procured for them better accommodation than they might otherwise
have had, and Richard obtained for Cicely a tiny closet within the room
where he was himself to sleep. He even contrived that she should be
served alone, partly by himself, partly by the hostess, a kind motherly
woman, to whom he committed her, while he supped with the Earl, and was
afterwards called into his sleeping chamber to tell him of his
endeavours at treating with Lord and Lady Talbot, and also to hear his
lamentations over the business he had been sent upon. He had actually
offered to make over his office as Earl Marshal to Burghley for the
nonce, but as he said, "that of all the nobles in England, such work
should fall to the lot of him, who had been for fourteen years the poor
lady's host, and knew her admirable patience and sweet conditions, was
Moreover, he was joined in the commission with the Earl of Kent, a sour
Puritan, who would rejoice in making her drink to the dregs of the cup
of bitterness! He was sick at heart with the thought. Richard
represented that he would, at least, be able to give what comfort could
be derived from mildness and compassion.
"Not I, not I!" said the poor man, always weak. "Not with those harsh
yoke-fellows Kent and Paulett to drive me on, and that viper Beale to
report to the Privy Council any strain of mercy as mere treason. What
can I do?"
"You would do much, my Lord, if you would move them to restore--for
these last hours--to her those faithful servants, Melville and De
Preaux, whom Paulett hath seen fit to seclude from her. It is rank
cruelty to let her die without the sacraments of her Church when her
conscience will not let her accept ours."
"It is true, Richard, over true. I will do what I can, but I doubt me
whether I shall prevail, where Paulett looks on a Mass as mere
idolatry, and will not brook that it should be offered in his house.
But come you back with me, kinsman. We will send old Master Purvis to
take your daughter safely home."
Richard of course refused, and at the same time, thinking an
explanation necessary and due to the Earl, disclosed to him that Cicely
was no child of his, but a near kinswoman of the Scottish Queen, whom
it was desirable to place out of Queen Elizabeth's reach for the
present, adding that there had been love passages between her and his
son Humfrey, who intended to wed her and see some foreign service.
Lord Shrewsbury showed at first some offence at having been kept in
ignorance all these years of such a fact, and wondered what his
Countess would say, marvelled too that his cousin should consent to his
son's throwing himself away on a mere stranger, of perilous connection,
and going off to foreign wars; but the good nobleman was a placable
man, and always considerably influenced by the person who addressed
him, and he ended by placing the Mastiff at Richard's disposal to take
the young people to Scotland or Holland, or wherever they might wish to
This decided Mr. Talbot on making at once for the seaport; and
accordingly he left behind him the horse, which was to serve as a token
to his son that such was his course. Cicely had been worn out with her
day's journey, and slept late and sound, so that she was not ready to
leave her chamber till the Earl and his retinue were gone, and thus she
was spared actual contact with him who was to doom her mother, and see
that doom carried out. She was recruited by rest, and more ready to
talk than on the previous day, but she was greatly disappointed to find
that she might not be taken to Bridgefield.
"If I could only be with Mother Susan for one hour," she sighed.
"Would that thou couldst, my poor maid," said Richard. "The mother
hath the trick of comfort."
"'Twas not comfort I thought of. None can give me that," said the poor
girl; "but she would teach me how to be a good wife to Humfrey."
These words were a satisfaction to Richard, who had begun to feel
somewhat jealous for his son's sake, and to doubt whether the girl's
affection rose to the point of requiting the great sacrifice made for
his sake, though truly in those days parents were not wont to be
solicitous as to the mutual attachment between a betrothed pair.
However, Cicely's absolute resignation of herself and her fate into
Humfrey's hands, without even a question, and with entire confidence
and peace, was evidence enough that her heart was entirely his; nay,
had been his throughout all the little flights of ambition now so
entirely passed away, without apparently a thought on her part.
It was on the Friday forenoon, a day very unlike their last entrance
into Hull, that they again entered the old town, in the brightness of a
crisp frost; but poor Cicely could not but contrast her hopeful mood of
November with her present overwhelming sorrow, where, however, there
was one drop of sweetness. Her foster-father took her again to good
Mr. Heatherthwayte's, according to the previous invitation, and was
rejoiced to see that the joyous welcome of Oil-of-Gladness awoke a
smile; and the little girl, being well trained in soberness and
discretion, did not obtrude upon her grief.
Stern Puritan as he was, the minister himself contained his
satisfaction that the Papist woman was to die and never reign over
England until he was out of hearing of the pale maiden who had--strange
as it seemed to him--loved her enough to be almost broken-hearted at
Richard saw Goatley and set him to prepare the Mastiff for an immediate
voyage. Her crew, somewhat like those of a few modern yachts, were
permanently attached to her, and lived in the neighbourhood of the
wharf, so that, under the personal superintendence of one who was as
much loved and looked up to as Captain Talbot, all was soon in a state
of forwardness, and Gillingham made himself very useful. When darkness
put a stop to the work and supper was being made ready, Richard found
time to explain matters to Mr. Heatherthwayte, for his honourable mind
would not permit him to ask his host unawares to perform an office that
might possibly be construed as treasonable. In spite of the
preparation which he had already received through Colet's
communications, the minister's wonder was extreme. "Daughter to the
Queen of Scots, say you, sir! Yonder modest, shamefast maiden, of
such seemly carriage and gentle speech?"
Richard smiled and said--"My good friend, had you seen that poor
lady--to whom God be merciful--as I have done, you would know that what
is sweetest in our Cicely's outward woman is derived from her; for the
inner graces, I cannot but trace them to mine own good wife."
Mr. Heatherthwayte seemed at first hardly to hear him, so overpowered
was he with the notion that the daughter of her, whom he was in the
habit of classing with Athaliah and Herodias, was in his house, resting
on the innocent pillow of Oil-of-Gladness. He made his guest recount
to him the steps by which the discovery had been made, and at last
seemed to embrace the idea. Then he asked whether Master Talbot were
about to carry the young lady to the protection of her brother in
Scotland; and when the answer was that it might be poor protection even
if conferred, and that by all accounts the Court of Scotland was by no
means a place in which to leave a lonely damsel with no faithful
guardian, the minister asked--
"How then will you bestow the maiden?"
"In that, sir, I came to ask you to aid me. My son Humfrey is
following on our steps, leaving Fotheringhay so soon as his charge
there is ended; and I ask of you to wed him to the maid, whom we will
then take to Holland, when he will take service with the States."
The amazement of the clergyman was redoubled, and he began at first to
plead with Richard that a perilous overleaping ambition was leading him
thus to mate his son with an evil, though a royal, race.
At this Richard smiled and shook his head, pointing out that the very
last thing any of them desired was that Cicely's birth should be known;
and that even if it were, her mother's marriage was very questionable.
It was no ambition, he said, that actuated his son, "But you saw
yourself how, nineteen years ago, the little lad welcomed her as his
little sister come back to him. That love hath grown up with him.
When, at fifteen years old, he learnt that she was a nameless stranger,
his first cry was that he would wed her and give her his name. Never
hath his love faltered; and even when this misfortune of her rank was
known, and he lost all hope of gaining her, while her mother bade her
renounce him, his purpose was even still to watch over and guard her;
and at the end, beyond all our expectations, they have had her mother's
dying blessing and entreaty that he would take her."
"Sir, do you give me your word for that?"
"Yea, Master Heatherthwayte, as I am a true man. Mind you, worldly
matters look as different to a poor woman who knoweth the headsman is
in the house, as to one who hath her head on her dying pillow. This
Queen had devised plans for sending our poor Cis abroad to her French
and Lorraine kindred, with some of the French ladies of her train."
"Heaven forbid!" broke out Heatherthwayte, in horror. "The rankest of
"Even so, and with recommendations to give her in marriage to some
adventurous prince whom the Spaniards might abet in working woe to us
in her name. But when she saw how staunch the child is in believing as
mine own good dame taught her, she saw, no doubt, that this would be
mere giving her over to be persecuted and mewed in a convent."
"Then the woman hath some bowels of mercy, though a Papist."
"She even saith that she doubteth not that such as live honestly and
faithfully by the light that is in them shall be saved. So when she
saw she prevailed nothing with the maid, she left off her endeavours.
Moreover, my son not only saved her life, but won her regard by his
faith and honour; and she called him to her, and even besought him to
be her daughter's husband. I came to you, reverend sir, as one who has
known from the first that the young folk are no kin to one another; and
as I think the peril to you is small, I deemed that you would do them
this office. Otherwise, I must take her to Holland and see them wedded
by a stranger there."
Mr. Heatherthwayte was somewhat touched, but he sat and considered,
perceiving that to marry the young lady to a loyal Englishman was the
safest way of hindering her from falling into the clutches of a Popish
prince; but he still demurred, and asked how Mr. Talbot could talk of
the mere folly of love, and for its sake let his eldest son and heir
become a mere exile and fugitive, cut off, it might be, from home.
"For that matter, sir," said Richard, "my son is not one to loiter
about, as the lubberly heir, cumbering the land at home. He would, so
long as I am spared in health and strength, be doing service by land or
sea, and I trust that by the time he is needed at home, all this may be
so forgotten that Cis may return safely. The maid hath been our child
too long for us to risk her alone. And for such love being weak and
foolish, surely, sir, it was the voice of One greater than you or I
that bade a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife."
Mr. Heatherthwayte still murmured something about "youth" and "lightly
undertaken," and Master Talbot observed, with a smile, that when he had
seen Humfrey he might judge as to the lightness of purpose.
Richard meanwhile was watching somewhat anxiously for the arrival of
his son, who, he had reckoned, would make so much more speed than was
possible for Cis, that he might have almost overtaken them, if the
fatal business had not been delayed longer than he had seen reason to
anticipate. However, these last words had not long been out of his
mouth when a man's footsteps, eager, yet with a tired sound and with
the clank of spurs, came along the paved way outside, and there was a
knock at the door. Some one else had been watching; for, as the street
door was opened, Cicely sprang forward as Humfrey held out his arms;
then, as she rested against his breast, he said, so that she alone
could hear, "Her last words to me were, 'Give her my love and blessing,
and tell her my joy is come--such joy as I never knew before.'"
Then they knew the deed was done, and Richard said, "God have mercy on
her soul!" Nor did Mr. Heatherthwayte rebuke him. Indeed there was no
time, for Humfrey exclaimed, "She is swooning." He gathered her in his
arms, and carried her where they lighted him, laying her on Oil's
little bed, but she was not entirely unconscious, and rallied her
senses so as to give him a reassuring look, not quite a smile, and yet
wondrously sweet, even in the eyes of others. Then, as the lamp
flashed on his figure, she sprang to her feet, all else forgotten in
"O Humfrey, thou art hurt! What is it? Sit thee down."
They then saw that his face was, indeed, very pale and jaded, and that
his dress was muddied from head to foot, and in some places there were
marks of blood; but as she almost pushed him down on the chest beside
the bed, he said, in a voice hoarse and sunk, betraying weariness--
"Naught, naught, Cis; only my beast fell with me going down a hill, and
lamed himself, so that I had to lead him the last four or five miles.
Moreover, this cut on my hand must needs break forth bleeding more than
I knew in the dark, or I had not frighted thee by coming in such sorry
plight," and he in his turn gazed reassuringly into her eyes as she
stood over him, anxiously examining, as if she scarce durst trust him,
that if stiff and bruised at all, it mattered not. Then she begged a
cup of wine for him, and sent Oil for water and linen, and Humfrey had
to abandon his hand to her, to be cleansed and bound up, neither of
them uttering a word more than needful, as she knelt by the chest
performing this work with skilful hands, though there was now and then
a tremor over her whole frame.
"Now, dear maid," said Richard, "thou must let him come with us and don
some dry garments: then shalt thou see him again."
"Rest and food--he needs them," said Cis, in a voice weak and
tremulous, though the self-restraint of her princely nature strove to
control it. "Take him, father; methinks I cannot hear more to-night.
He will tell me all when we are away together. I would be alone, and
in the dark; I know he is come, and you are caring for him. That is
enough, and I can still thank God."
Her face quivered, and she turned away; nor did Humfrey dare to shake
her further by another demonstration, but stumbled after his father to
the minister's chamber, where some incongruous clerical attire had been
provided for him, since he disdained the offer of supping in bed.
Mr. Heatherthwayte was much struck with the undemonstrativeness of
their meeting, for there was high esteem for austerity in the Puritan
world, in contrast to the utter want of self-restraint shown by the
more secular characters.
When Humfrey presently made his appearance with his father's cloak
wrapped over the minister's clean shirt and nether garments, Richard
said, "Son Humfrey, this good gentleman who baptized our Cis would fain
be certain that there is no lightness of purpose in this thy design."
"Nay, nay, Mr. Talbot," broke in the minister, "I spake ere I had seen
this gentleman. From what I have now beheld, I have no doubts that be
she who she may, it is a marriage made and blessed in heaven."
"I thank you, sir," said Humfrey, gravely; "it is my one hope
They spoke no more till he had eaten, for he was much spent, having
never rested more than a couple of hours, and not slept at all since
leaving Fotheringhay. He had understood by the colour of the horse
left at Nottingham which road to take, and at the hostel at Hull had
encountered Gillingham, who directed him on to Mr. Heatherthwayte's.
What he brought himself to tell of the last scene at Fotheringhay has
been mostly recorded by history, and need not here be dwelt upon. When
Bourgoin and Melville fell back, unable to support their mistress along
the hall to the scaffold, the Queen had said to him, "Thou wilt do me
this last service," and had leant on his arm along the crowded hall,
and had taken that moment to speak those last words for Cicely. She
had blessed James openly, and declared her trust that he would find
salvation if he lived well and sincerely in the faith he had chosen.
With him she had secretly blessed her other child.
Humfrey was much shaken and could hardly command his voice to answer
the questions of Master Heatherthwayte, but he so replied to them that,
one by one, the phrases and turns were relinquished which the worthy
man had prepared for a Sunday's sermon on "Go see now this accursed
woman and bury her, for she is a king's daughter," and he even began to
consider of choosing for his text something that would bid his
congregation not to judge after the sight of their eyes, nor condemn
after the hearing of their ears.
When Humfrey had eaten and drunk, and the ruddy hue was returning to
his cheek, Mr. Heatherthwayte discovered that he must speak with his
churchwarden that night. Probably the pleasure of communicating the
tidings that the deed was accomplished added force to the consideration
that the father and son would rather be alone together, for he lighted
his lantern with alacrity, and carried off Dust-and-Ashes with him.
Then Humfrey had more to tell which brooked no delay. On the day after
the departure of his father and Cicely, Will Cavendish had arrived, and
Humfrey had been desired to demand from the prisoner an immediate
audience for that gentleman. Mary had said, "This is anent the child.
Call him in, Humfrey," and as Cavendish had passed the guard he had
struck his old comrade on the shoulder and observed, "What gulls we
have at Hallamshire."
He had come out from his conference fuming, and desiring to hear from
Humfrey whether he were aware of the imposture that had been put on the
Queen and upon them all, and to which yonder stubborn woman still chose
to cleave--little Cis Talbot supposing herself a queen's daughter, and
they all, even grave Master Richard, being duped. It was too much for
Will! A gentleman, so nearly connected with the Privy Council, was not
to be deceived like these simple soldiers and sailors, though it suited
Queen Mary's purposes to declare the maid to be in sooth her daughter,
and to refuse to disown her. He supposed it was to embroil England for
the future that she left such a seed of mischief.
And old Paulett had been fool enough to let the girl leave the Castle,
whereas Cavendish's orders had been to be as secret as possible lest
the mischievous suspicion of the existence of such a person should
spread, but to arrest her and bring her to London as soon as the
execution should be over; when, as he said, no harm would happen to her
provided she would give up the pretensions with which she had been
"It would have been safer for you both," said poor Queen Mary to
Humfrey afterwards, "if I had denied her, but I could not disown my
poor child, or prevent her from yet claiming royal rights. Moreover, I
have learnt enough of you Talbots to know that you would not owe your
safety to falsehood from a dying woman."
But Will's conceit might be quite as effectual. He was under orders to
communicate the matter to no one not already aware of it, and as above
all things he desired to see the execution as the most memorable
spectacle he was likely to behold in his life, and he believed Cicely
to be safe at Bridgefield, he thought it unnecessary to take any
farther steps until that should be over. Humfrey had listened to all
with what countenance he might, and gave as little sign as possible.
But when the tragedy had been consummated, and he had seen the fair
head fall, and himself withdrawn poor little Bijou from beneath his
dead mistress's garment, handing him to Jean Kennedy, he had--with
blood still curdling with horror--gone down to the stables, taken his
horse, and ridden away.
There would no doubt be pursuit so soon as Richard and Cicely were
found not to be at Bridgefield; but there was a space in which to act,
and Mr. Talbot at once said, "The Mastiff is well-nigh ready to sail.
Ye must be wedded to-morrow morn, and go on board without delay."
They judged it better not to speak of this to the poor bride in her
heavy grief; and Humfrey, having heard from their little hostess that
Mistress Cicely lay quite still, and sent him her loving greeting,
consented to avail himself of the hospitable minister's own bed,
hoping, as he confided to his father, that very weariness would hinder
him from seeing the block, the axe, and the convulsed face, that had
haunted him on the only previous time when he had tried to close his
Long before day Cicely heard her father's voice bidding her awake and
dress herself, and handing in a light. The call was welcome, for it
had been a night of strange dreams and sadder wakenings to the sense
"it had come at last"--yet the one comfort, "Humfrey is near." She
dressed herself in those plain black garments she had assumed in
London, and in due time came down to where her father awaited her. She
was pale, silent, and passive, and obeyed mechanically as he made her
take a little food. She looked about as if for some one, and he said,
"Humfrey will meet us anon." Then he himself put on her cloak, hood,
and muffler. She was like one in a dream, never asking where they were
going, and thus they left the house. There was light from a waning
moon, and by it he led her to the church.
It was a strange wedding in that morning moonlight streaming in at the
east window of that grand old church, and casting the shadows of the
columns and arches on the floor, only aided by one wax light, which, as
Mr. Heatherthwayte took care to protest, was not placed on the holy
table out of superstition, but because he could not see without it.
Indeed the table stood lengthways in the centre aisle, and would have
been bare, even of a white cloth, had not Richard begged for a
Communion for the young pair to speed them on their perilous way, and
Mr. Heatherthwayte--almost under protest--consented, since a sea voyage
and warlike service in a foreign land lay before them. But, except
that he wore no surplice, he had resigned himself to Master Richard on
that most unnatural morning, and stifled his inmost sighs when he had
to pronounce the name Bride, given, not by himself, but by some Romish
priest--when the bridegroom, with the hand wounded for Queen Mary's
sake, gave a ruby ring, most unmistakably coming from that same
perilous quarter,--and above all when the pair and the father knelt in
deep reverence. Yet their devotion was evidently so earnest and so
heartfelt that he knew not how to blame it, and he could not but bless
them with his whole heart as he walked down with them to the wharf.
All were silent, except that Cicely once paused and said she wanted to
speak to "Father." He came to her side, and she took his arm instead
"Sir," she said; "it has come to me that now my sweet mother is left
alone it would be no small joy to her, and of great service to our good
host's little daughter, if Oil-of-Gladness could take my place at home
for a year or two."
"None will do that, Cis; but there is much that would be well in the
notion, and I will consider of it. She is a maid of good conditions,
and the mother is lonesome."
His consideration resulted in his making the proposal, much startling,
though greatly gratifying. Master Heatherthwayte, who thanked him,
talked of his honour for that discreet and godly woman Mistress Susan,
and said he must ponder and pray upon it, and would reply when Mr.
Talbot returned from his voyage.
At the wharf lay the Mastiff's boat in charge of Gervas and Gillingham.
All three stepped into it together, the most silent bride and
bridegroom perhaps that the Humber had ever seen. Only each of the
three wrung the hand of the good clergyman. At that moment all the
bells in Hull broke forth with a joyous peal, which by the association
made the bride look up with a smile. Her husband forced one in return;
but his father's eyes, which she could not see, filled with tears. He
knew it was in exultation at her mother's death, and they hurried into
the boat lest she should catch the purport of the shouts that were
beginning to arise as the townsfolk awoke to the knowledge that their
enemy was dead.
The fires of Smithfield were in the remembrance of this generation. The
cities of Flanders were writhing under the Spanish yoke; "the richest
spoils of Mexico, the stoutest hearts of Spain," were already mustering
to reduce England to the condition of Antwerp or Haarlem; and only
Elizabeth's life had seemed to lie between them and her who was bound
by her religion to bring all this upon the peaceful land. No wonder
those who knew not the tissue of cruel deceits and treacheries that had
worked the final ruin of the captive, and believed her guilty of
fearful crimes, should have burst forth in a wild tumult of joy, such
as saddened even the Protestant soul of Mr. Heatherthwayte, as he
turned homewards after giving his blessing to the mournful young girl,
whom the boat was bearing over the muddy waters of the Hull.
They soon had her on board, but the preparations were hardly yet
complete, nor could the vessel make her way down the river until the
evening tide. It was a bright clear day, and a seat on deck was
arranged for the lady, where she sat with Humfrey beside her, holding
her cloak round her, and telling her--strange theme for a bridal
day--all he thought well to tell her of those last hours, when Mary had
truly shown herself purified by her long patience, and exalted by the
hope that her death had in it somewhat of martyrdom.
His father meantime superintended the work of the crew, being extremely
anxious to lose no time, and to sail before night. Mr.
Heatherthwayte's anxiety brought him on board again, for he wanted to
ask more questions about the Bridgefield doings ere beginning his
ponderings and his prayers respecting his decision for his little
daughter; nor had he taken his final leave when the anchor was at
length weighed, and the ship had passed by the strange old gables,
timbered houses, and open lofts, that bounded the harbour out from the
Hull river into the Humber itself, while both the Talbots breathed more
freely; but as the chill air of evening made itself felt, they
persuaded Cicely to let her husband take her down to her cabin.
It was at this moment, in the deepening twilight, that the ship was
hailed, and a boat came alongside, and there was a summons, "In the
Queen's name," and a slightly made lean figure in black came up the
side. He was accompanied by a stout man, apparently a constable. There
was a moment's pause, then the new-comer said "Kinsman Talbot--"
"I count no kindred with betrayers, Cuthbert Langston," said Richard,
drawing himself up with folded arms.
"Scorn me not, Richard Talbot," was the reply; "you stood my friend
once when none other did so, and for that cause have I hindered much
hurt to you and yours. But for me you had been in a London jail for
these three weeks past. Nor do I come to do you evil now. Give up the
wench, and your name shall never be brought forward, since the matter
is to be private. Behold a warrant from the Council empowering me to
bring before them the person of Bride Hepburn, otherwise called Cicely
"Man of treacheries and violence," said Mr. Heatherthwayte, standing
forward, an imposing figure in his full black gown and white ruff, "go
back! The lady is not for thy double-dealing, nor is there now any
such person as either Bride Hepburn or Cicely Talbot."
"I cry you mercy," sneered Langston. "I see how it is! I shall have
to bear your reverence likewise away for a treasonable act in
performing the office of matrimony for a person of royal blood without
consent of the Queen. And your reverence knows the penalty."
At that instant there rang from the forecastle a never-to-be-forgotten
howl of triumphant hatred and fury, and with a spring like that of a
tiger, Gillingham bounded upon him with a shout, "Remember Babington!"
and grappled with him, dragging him backwards to the bulwark. Richard
and the constable both tried to seize the fiercely struggling forms,
but in vain. They were over the side in a moment, and there was a
heavy splash into the muddy waters of the Humber, thick with the
downcome of swollen rivers, thrown back by the flowing tide.
Humfrey came dashing up from below, demanding who was overboard, and
ready to leap to the rescue wherever any should point in the darkness,
but his father withheld him, nor, indeed, was there sound or eddy to be
"It is the manifest judgment of God," said Mr. Heatherthwayte, in a
low, awe-stricken voice.
But the constable cried aloud that a murder had been done in resisting
the Queen's warrant.
With a ready gesture the minister made Humfrey understand that he must
keep his wife in the cabin, and Richard at the same time called Mr.
Heatherthwayte and all present to witness that, murder as it
undoubtedly was, it had not been in resisting the Queen's warrant, but
in private revenge of the servant, Harry Gillingham, for his master
Babington, whom he believed to have been betrayed by this gentleman.
It appeared that the constable knew neither the name of the gentleman
nor whom the warrant mentioned. He had only been summoned in the
Queen's name to come on board the Mastiff to assist in securing the
person of a young gentlewoman, but who she was, or why she was to be
arrested, the man did not know. He saw no lady on deck, and he was by
no means disposed to make any search, and the presence of Master
Heatherthwayte likewise impressed him much with the belief that all was
right with the gentlemen.
Of course it would have been his duty to detain the Mastiff for an
inquiry into the matter, but the poor man was extremely ill at ease in
the vessel and among the retainers of my Lord of Shrewsbury; and in
point of fact, they might all have been concerned in a crime of much
deeper dye without his venturing to interfere. He saw no one to
arrest, the warrant was lost, the murderer was dead, and he was
thankful enough to be returned to his boat with Master Richard Talbot's
assurance that it was probable that no inquiry would be made, but that
if it were, the pilot would be there to bear witness of his innocence,
and that he himself should return in a month at latest with the Mastiff.
Master Heatherthwayte consoled the constable further by saying he would
return in his boat, and speak for him if there were any inquiry after
the other passenger.
"I must speak my farewells here," he said, "and trust we shall have no
coil to meet you on your return, Master Richard."
"But for her," said Humfrey, "I could not let my father face it alone.
When she is in safety"--
"Tush, lad," said his father, "such plotters as yonder poor wretch had
become are not such choice prizes as to be inquired for. Men are only
too glad to be rid of them when their foul work is done."
"So farewell, good Master Heatherthwayte," added Humfrey, "with thanks
for this day's work. I have read of good and evil geniuses or angels,
be they which they may, haunting us for life, and striving for the
mastery. Methinks my Cis hath found both on the same Humber which
brought her to us."
"Nay, go not forth with Pagan nor Popish follies on thy tongue, young
man," said Heatherthwayte, "but rather pray that the blessing of the
Holy One, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of thy father,
may be with thee and thine in this strange land, and bring thee safely
back in His own time. And surely He will bless the faithful."
And Richard Talbot said Amen.
Next: Ten Years After
Previous: The Warrant